2019 4-Weight Shootout

Comments by Logan Brown

 

 Logan Brown fly fishing

 

Here is our 4-Weight Shootout for 2019.  We haven’t done a 4-Weight Shootout in a few years so it was time to revisit 4-weight offerings.  In the early Shootout, the Hardy Zenith in 8-½ foot #4 won, and it is still regarded as one of the greatest 4-weights ever made.


Going into this year’s Shootout I knew that the replacement for the Zenith, the Hardy Zephrus, was the top contender, and I was sure it would be my winner.  But after casting the new R.L. Winston Pure I knew I had a new favorite.

I fish in many situations where a good 4-weight is needed.  I look for a rod that can present the fly with accuracy, but also delicately.  I also look for a good all around rod - but I am much more concerned with in close to mid-range distances, as I rarely will have to cast as far as 60 feet.

As always I feel very fortunate to be able to cast all of the rods and participate in our Shootout.   I hope my results can shed some light on how each of these rods perform, in order to help you choose a 4-weight rod that is right for you.

 

Logan Brown - You have questions - he has answers

 

My Top Picks

There were a lot of great rods in our 4-weight Shootout but here are the rods that really impressed me:

 

    1. R.L. Winston Pure - This rod took me by surprise.  I have always been a Winston fan after the 
        BIIx, but the Pure is one rod I have really fallen in love with.

 
    2. Hardy Zephrus – Still one of the finest 4-weight rods 
        on the market.  The Zephrus put in an impressive performance at all distances.

 
    3. Orvis Helios 3F - Another great Helios 3F.  From a 3-weight up to an 8-weight, Orvis has the
         H3F figured out.


    4. Scott G Series - A great update to a classic rod for delicate fishing at closer distances.

 
    5. Fenwick Aetos - Killer performance and a killer price.

 

 

Logans Performance Only

 

  

#1.  (tie) R.L. Winston PURE - 8’ #4   $850.00

R.L. Winston PURE 8'#4

R.L.Winston PURE 8'#4

The new R.L. Winston Pure 8’ #4 rod is my top rod in this year’s Shootout.  From the second I had this rod in my hand I knew it was something special.  For me this rod is the winner of this year’s Shootout not just based on performance, but also its overall craftsmanship is second to none.  I love the striking appearance of this rod in the familiar Winston emerald green.  The cork handle is flawless, and the nickel-silver hardware on the reel seat is beautiful.  Moreover, this is a rod made here in Montana.  Every year there is a rod that stands out as one I want to own.  This year, the 8’ #4 Pure is that rod!   

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 49 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 20 out of 20

Absolutely buttery smooth.  I was forming tight loops and getting perfect presentations.  I liked how smooth and accurate this rod was at closer distances.  Only this and the Scott G series scored perfect 20’s at 25 feet.

Performance at 40 feet: 20 out of 20

The Pure is smooth perfection at 40 feet.  I actually think I like casting it better at this mid distance than in close.

Performance at 60 feet: 9 out of 10

I was surprised at how well the R.L. Winston Pure 8’ #4 performed at 60 feet for an 8-foot rod.

 

 

 

#1.  (tie) Hardy ZEPHRUS - 8’6” #4   $679.00

Hardy Zephrus 8'6"#4-weight

hardy zephrus 8'6"#4

The Hardy Zephrus is still the best all around 4 weight made.  In my performance scores, it was nearly as good as the Pure at 25 feet.  Both were perfect at 40 feet, and then the Zephrus was better at 60 feet.  Year after year the Zephrus manages to maintain its top position.  The Pure has it beat for me, but if you are looking for the best all around rod, look no further. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 49 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The Zephrus is giving me great presentations at 25 feet.  I am surprised at how well it performed at closer distances considering how much power it has on tap.

Performance at 40 feet: 20 out of 20

At 45 feet the Zephrus is a champ.  This and the Pure were the only two rods I scored a perfect 20 out of 20 at 45 feet.

Performance at 60 feet: 9.5 out of 10

At 60 feet the Zephrus was still performing extremely well.  I enjoyed the amount of reserve power it has, and I was making great casts at the longer distances.

 

 

 

 

#3.  Orvis HELIOS 3F - 8’6” #4    $849.00

Orvis H3F

Orvis H3F

From top to bottom in their line-up, the Orvis Helios 3F rods are proven winners.  When it was first introduced I was not a big fan of the overall look of the Helios 3F.  Like many I didn’t care for all that white on the butt section.  The look still isn’t my favorite, but it has grown on me.  Looks aside, it is one of the top performing rods.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 48.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5 out of 20

At 25 feet the Orvis Helios 3F is absolutely amazing.  It wasn’t quite as accurate as the R.L. Winston Pure but it was very close.

Performance at 40 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The H3F was an incredible rod at mid-range distance, having excellent feel and accuracy.

Performance at 60 feet: 9.5 out of 10

The overall performance of the Orvis Helios 3F is impressive.  It was performing equally as well for me at 60 feet as it was at 25 feet.

 

 

 

 

#4.  Scott G SERIES - 8’4” #4    $845.00

Scott G SERIES 8'4"#4

 Scott G SERIES new G rods

The new Scott G Series is a nice improvement for an iconic rod.  For in close presentations, not much, if anything, can beat it.  The internal spigot ferrules add to a classic look and give me that one-piece feel that was found in the original G rods.  Scott has redesigned the ferrule system making it 20% stronger.  If you are a fan of the original G or G2 I would highly recommend adding this rod to your quiver.  “Nothing but a G thang baby” - this rod makes me want it like…..crazy!!!

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 48 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 20 out of 20

At 25 feet the Scott G Series is incredible.  I’m making very accurate and delicate casts.  I scored the G series a perfect 20 out of 20, matching the Winston Pure.

Performance at 40 feet: 19.5 out of 20

After casting the G Series at 25 feet, I was surprised that it (and the Pure) was almost as good at our mid-distance target. 

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5 out of 10

The G Series was still very good at 60 feet.  Its lack of guts compared to the Helios 3F and Zephrus were expected since this is a relatively soft rod. 

 

 

 

 

 

#5.(tie) Thomas & Thomas AVANTT - 8’6” #4  $845.00

Thomas & Thomas AVANTT 8'6"#4

 Thomas & Thomas AVANTT 8'6"#4

The Avantt continues to be one of my favorite rods in our Shootouts.  It performs well at all distances, but its sweet spot seems to be mid to long distance.  The Avantt is one of my favorite looking rods in the Shootout.  I love the matte blue finish, accented by glossy blue thread wraps.  From top to bottom you can tell Thomas & Thomas took time building each rod.  It does have a slightly shorter grip than the other rods, which did feel a little different but was still very comfortable.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 47 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The stiffness of the Avantt hurt its performance score at 25 feet.  I was pretty accurate with it though, and was consistently hitting near the center of the plate.

Performance at 40 feet: 19 out of 20

The more line I got out, the better the Avantt performed.  It tracks beautifully and was also extremely accurate.

Performance at 60 feet: 9.5 out of 10

My two favorite rods at 60 feet were the Thomas & Thomas Avantt and the G. Loomis Asquith.  I was accurate with other rods, but these two were the most effortless to cast at the longer distances, giving me great accuracy.

 

 

 

 

 

#5.  (tie) Orvis RECON - 8’6” #4    $429.00

Orvis Recon

Orvis RECON 8'6"#4

The Orvis Recon rounds out my top 6.  It is an absolute pleasure to cast and the price is only $429!!!  I have always liked the Recon line in the various line sizes, and the 4-weight reaffirms this.  The appearance and quality are at the same high level the Recon has had since its introduction.  One thing that stood out was its light overall weight and swing weight.  It performed well for me at all distances.  For under $500, the Recon is an impressive rod that gave me a great all-around performance.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 47 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 19 out of 20

The Recon is very pleasant at 25 feet.  It was delivering perfect casts with good delicacy. 

Performance at 40 feet: 19.5 out of 20

At 40 feet the Recon was deadly accurate.  I was able to hit the plate with regularity.  I thought the light overall weight might have limited its power and performance at the two longer distances, but that was not the case.

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5 out of 10

The Orvis Recon had what it takes to make consistently good casts at the 60-foot mark.  It wasn’t the most accurate, but handles the longer distances easily.

 

 

 

 

 

#7.  (tie) St. Croix IMPERIAL - 8’6” #4   $270.00

St. Croix IMPERIAL 8'6"#4

 St. Croix IMPERIAL 8'6"#4

The updated St. Croix Imperial was one of my picks for the best mid-priced rod in the shootout.  Between this rod and the Hardy Shadow you really can’t go wrong.  The Imperial has a soft tip, but still has the guts to handle the 40-foot distance easily and with excellent accuracy.  I liked the updates that St. Croix has made to the Imperial.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 46.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5 out of 20

25 feet was the St. Croix Imperial’s sweet spot.  I was both accurate and delicate on almost every cast.

Performance at 40 feet: 19 out of 20

The Imperial was performing beautifully at 40 feet.  I was impressed with its accuracy despite its softer tip.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

At 60 feet the Imperial wasn’t quite as good as it was in close, but it could still get the job done.

  

 

 

#7.  (tie) Hardy SHADOW - 8’6” #4    $349.95

Hardy SHADOW 8'6"#4

Hardy SHADOW 8'6"#4

The Hardy Shadow is my other pick for the best mid-priced rod in this year’s 4-weight Shootout.  It was very light in hand with one of the lighter overall and swing weight totals in the Shootout.  It was also a great looking rod.  I liked the deep glossy wine color, nice skeleton uplocking reel seat with an attractive wood insert, and the dark colored guides.

Light in hand, it felt, looked, and performed much more like an $800 rod than a rod that sells for $350.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 46.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5 out of 20

The Hardy Shadow was very impressive at closer distances.  It gave me accurate presentations, that were also delicate.

Performance at 40 feet: 19 out of 20

At 40 feet the Hardy Shadow was again extremely accurate.  It felt almost effortless to make good casts at 40 feet.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

60 feet wasn’t the Hardy Shadow’s best distance.  It didn’t have as much reserve power as its counterpart, the Hardy Zephrus.

 

 

 

 

#9.  (tie) Hardy ZEPHRUS ULTRALITE - 8’9” #4  $679.95

Hardy ZEPHRUS ULTRALITE 8'9"#4

 Hardy ZEPHRUS ULTRALITE 8'9"#4

The Hardy Zephrus Ultralite is the lightest rod in our 2019 4-weight shootout in both overall weight and swing weight.  Holding it in your hand you realize why it is called the Ultralite.  Cosmetically it is one of my favorite rods in the Shootout.  I really like the brown blank color, and the fancy wood/cork mixed reel seat.  The nickel/titanium single-foot guides help give it such a light feel in hand.  Hardy has given us a very attractive rod in the Ultralite. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 46 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 19.5 out of 20

25 feet was the Ultralite’s best distance.  If you like softer, smoother rods, you will love the Ultralite.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 40 feet the Ultralite was delivering ultra delicate casts.  Its softer action hurt its accuracy but its delicate presentations were among the best.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

The overall softer action hurt the Hardy Ultralite’s performance at 60 feet.  It wasn’t very accurate and I had to work to get what I needed out of the rod at longer distances.

 

 

 

 

#9.  (tie) Scott RADIAN 8’6” #4   $795.00

Scott Radian

Scott RADIAN 8'6"#4

The Scott Radian is a solid counterpart to the G Series.  If you are building a Scott quiver for lighter line rods, I’d first consider the G Series, but the Radian shouldn’t be overlooked.  The Radian has a little more power than the G Series, but was not quite as delicate.  I think the 9'#4-weight Radian would be an incredible nymph rod.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 46 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 25 feet the Scott G Series is hands down a better rod but if a strong wind persists or you are fishing a double nymph rig the Radian would be money.

Performance at 40 feet: 19 out of 20

The sweet spot for the Scott Radian is 40 feet.  It was one of the most accurate rods in the Shootout at 40 feet.

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5 out of 10

I thought the Scott Radian would have been slightly better at 60 feet.  It had a tendency to “die” when I really punched in the power.  8 times out of 10 it was perfect but every so often it was off.

 

 

 

#11.  G. Loomis ASQUITH - 9’ #4   $1000.00

G. Loomis Asquith

G. Loomis ASQUITH 9'#4

Despite its fast action and stiffness, I really enjoyed the G. Loomis Asquith 9’ #4.  It was the best rod at 60 feet and one of the most accurate at 40.  The Asquith is the only 9-foot rod that was less than 8 oz. in swing weight.  Since its introduction we have all been impressed by the Asquith’s ability to harness such power yet maintain a light swing weight.  This is very apparent in the 8-weight version of the Asquith and exactly what we look for in a higher line size rod.  As a 4-weight however, the amount of power that this rod produces is almost unnecessary.    

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 45.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 17 out of 20

The G. Loomis Asquith is a stiff rod, and not the best for delicate presentations or accuracy at close distances like 25 feet.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 40 feet the Asquith was deadly accurate.  It was still a little too stiff to give me delicate casts at 40 feet.

Performance at 60 feet: 10 out of 10

The Asquith was the only rod in the shootout I gave a perfect 10 out of 10 at 60 feet.  It was incredible how powerful and accurate this 4-weight is at long range compared to other rods in the shootout. 

 

 

 

 

#12.  (tie) Fenwick AETOS - 8’ #4   $179.95

Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick AETOS 8'#4

Here’s my pick for the best rod for under $200.  The Fenwick Aetos is an extremely enjoyable 4-weight to cast.  Its shorter length makes it incredibly responsive and lively.  If you are looking for a fun 4-weight that doesn’t break the bank, the Aetos is your rod.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 45 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The Fenwick has a surprising amount of power for an 8-foot rod.  It lacked some feel that hurt its performance at 25 feet.

Performance at 40 feet: 19 out of 20

The Aetos was zipping line out no problem at 40 feet.  It was accurate and a lot of fun to cast. 

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5 out of 10

At 60 feet the Aetos didn’t quite have the gas to power it to the plate every time.  I had to work harder to get accurate casts at 60 feet.

 

  

 

#12.  (tie) G. Loomis NRX LP - 9’#4    $745.00

G. Loomis NRX LP

 G. Loomis NRX LP

The G. Loomis NRX LP in a 9-foot 5-weight cannot be beat.  However, the 4-weight lacked something that makes the 5-weight so special.  I think that if it were available as an 8-½ foot model with a lighter action, it would have been one of the top contenders.   Still, it was one of the smoother rods in the Shootout and it performed well at all distances.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 45 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The NRX LP had good presentation at 25 feet.  It has just enough of a softer tip to make delicate presentations and protect lighter tippets.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 40 feet the NRX LP was forming tight loops and was very accurate.  It had really good tracking and consistent accuracy.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

The NRX LP had plenty of power to make longer casts, and still maintain some delicacy.

 

 

 

 

#12. (tie) Sage X  -     8'6"#4         $900.00

Sage X 8'6"#4

Sage X 8'6"#4 

The Sage X is my favorite Sage rod in the Shootout.  I felt it was also the one of the better all-around rods in our shootout.  It wasn’t the best at any one distance, but it performed well at all three distances we tested.  It has good power and would be a great 4-weight for someone looking for a good rod that performs well at all distances.


If you cast the X on its own, not next to other rods you would instantly want one, but heads up with the best rods you can see it’s just missing something.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 45 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18 out of 20

The Sage X had just a little too stiff a tip for it to shine at 25 feet.  It was nice but I felt it could have been better

Performance at 40 feet: 19 out of 20

40 feet was the best distance for the Sage X.  I felt like I couldn’t miss at this distance.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

I felt the same way about the Sage X at 60 feet as I did at 25 feet.  It just could have given me a little more in order to make it a great rod. 

  

 

 

#15.  (tie) Douglas SKY - 9’ #4    $695.00

Douglas Sky

 Douglas SKY

The Douglas SKY was a good rod compared to many of the 9-foot rods in our Shootout.  It was best at midrange, but performed well at all distances. I enjoyed the overall fast action of the SKY, and I think if they made it into a lighter action 8’6” rod, it would cut down on the weight and make it more enjoyable to cast.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 44.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 17.5 out of 20

The SKY was slightly too stiff and too heavy to do well at 25 feet.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 45 feet the SKY was really smooth.  It would be a great rod for longer dry fly casts, where you need to go long but still present the fly with delicacy.

Performance at 60 feet: 8.5 out of 10

I was able to make solid casts at 60 feet with the SKY.  It was smooth and maintained its accuracy.

 

 

 

 

#15.  (tie) Thomas & Thomas ZONE - 8’6” #4 $495.00

Thomas & Thomas ZONE 8'6"#4 

T&T ZONE

 


The Thomas & Thomas Zone is T&T’s mid priced offering.  Considering that the price of the Zone is under $500, the craftsmanship is very nice, something to be expected from Thomas & Thomas. 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 44.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18 out of 20

The Zone was tracking exceptionally well.  It was consistently accurate but lacked some sensitivity.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

40 feet was also a good distance for the Zone. I was impressed with the Zone’s ability to track well and produce good accuracy.

 Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

 The Zone had enough power in the butt section to get it out to the 60-foot plate with good accuracy.

 

 

 

#15.  (tie) Taylor TRUTH - 9’ #4    $649.00

Taylor TRUTH 9'#4

Taylor fly rods

 

The Taylor Truth is the first Taylor rod to be featured in one of our Shootouts.  I was very impressed by Taylor’s Truth rod.  I’ve heard a lot about Taylor, but since they don’t have an established dealer network it has been harder to get their products in our hands.  I knew of a few people fishing their reels and they have nothing but good things to say, so I was excited when I heard they were sending us a rod to test.  The Truth had nice cosmetics and a good overall look.  It was also very light in the hand.  I liked the faster action and it was one of the better performing 9-foot rods in the Shootout.    

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 44.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18 out of 20

At 25 feet the Truth lacked a little feel.  It was forming tight loops and was accurate, but lacked the feel I look for in a 4 weight.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The Taylor Truth was a pleasant rod to cast at 40 feet.  I was hitting the plate with ease. 

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

At 60 feet the Truth was performing well.  It was light in hand without sacrificing power.

 

 

#18.  (tie) R.L. Winston NIMBUS - 8’6” #4   $650.00

R.L. Winston NIMBUS 8'6"#4

R.L. Winston NIMBUS 8'6"#4

 

The Nimbus is one of Winston’s less expensive options.  They have given us a smooth casting rod with a softer action profile.  This action excels at closer distances, where delicate and accurate casts are needed.  The Nimbus is made right here in Montana.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 44 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 out of 20

25 feet was the best distance for the Nimbus.  It was one of the smoother casting rods at this distance.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 40 feet the Nimbus was still incredibly smooth, and it was able to maintain good accuracy.

Performance at 60 feet: 7 out of 10

Now the Nimbus was showing signs of weakness at 60 feet.  It softer profile doesn’t lend itself to casting at longer distances.

 

  

 

 

#18.  (tie) Douglas DXF - 8’6” #4    $349.00

 

Douglas DXF 8'6"#4 

 Douglas DXF 8'6"#4

The Douglas DXF was one of the better all around 4-weights at under $400.  It wasn’t incredible at any one distance but was good at all three.  It has the same fine craftsmanship and cosmetics we have come to expect from Douglas.  As dealers, we always know that every Douglas rod will be well built with quality components and consistently good quality control.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 44 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18 out of 20

The DXF was accurate at 25 feet, but the Winston Pure, with its softer tip, gave me more delicate presentations.    

Performance at 40 feet: 18 out of 20

At 40 feet the DXF was forming tight loops but was lacking the accuracy I was looking for.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

The DXF has the guts to cast to 60 feet, but isn’t as accurate or as smooth as other mid-priced rods like the Orvis Recon.

  

 

 

#20.  (tie) Mystic REAPER X - 8’6” #4  $299.00

Mystic Reaper X

Mystic REAPER X 8'6"#4

The Mystic Reaper X is the updated version of one of my favorite low-priced rods, the Mystic Reaper.  The Reaper X is a nice looking rod and the new cosmetic updates are an improvement over the original Reaper.  It performed best at closer distances for me. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 43.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 25 feet the Mystic Reaper X had good feel and was a fun rod to cast at closer distances.

Performance at 40 feet: 18 out of 20

The Mystic Reaper X lacked some power and I could feel its inconsistences when I was casting at the middle distance.

Performance at 60 feet: 7 out of 10

The lack of power in the butt section hurt the Reaper X’s performance at 60 feet.

 

 

 

 

#20.  (tie) Loop OPTI K2 - 9’ #4    $549.00

Loop OPTI K2 9'#4

Loop OPTI K2 9'#4

The Loop Opti K2 is Loop’s successor to the popular Opti series.  I am a huge fan of the discontinued OptiStream so I was hopeful that this rod would be equally impressive.  The 4-weight version of the Opti K2 was good, but we were able to cast the 5-weight as well, and I thought that the 5-weight performed better than the 4-weight.  This is a very attractive rod.  The bright metallic grayish blue blank gave the K2 some “pop” when sitting next to other rods.  I am excited to see that Loop also introduced this rod in a 5-weight version.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 43.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 17.5 out of 20

The Loop Opti K2 was not the best rod at 25 feet due to its stiffness, but it was accurate.  I would have liked a little better presentation.

Performance at 40 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The Loop was performing much better at 40 feet then it did at 25. Now I’m getting nice loops with good control.

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5 out of 20

The Opti K2 had enough power to manage 60 feet easily, but wasn’t as accurate as many of the other rods in the Shootout. 

 

 

 

#22.  (tie) G. Loomis IMX PRO - 8’6” #4  $495.00

G.Loomis IMX PRO

G. Loomis IMX PRO 8'6"#4

The G. Loomis IMX PRO is a newer rod from G. Loomis and it is new in our Shootouts.  I was hoping the IMX PRO would be a bit softer for a 4-weight, but I was happy with its ability to cast in the wind and its accuracy at longer distances.  It was one of the heavier rods in the shootout, but from my personal experience it is also one of the most durable rods on the market.  G. Loomis purposely made the IMX PRO slightly heavier to hold up to the abuse dished out by serious anglers and guides.  I own this rod in a 5-weight and I am a huge fan despite its stiffer profile and heavier weight.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 43 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 17 out of 20

The IMX-PRO wasn’t the most delicate rod at 25 feet.  It just had too much power in close to give me any kind of delicate presentation.   

Performance at 40 feet: 18 out of 20

At 40 feet the IMX-PRO was a far better rod than at 25 feet.  It would make a great 4-weight rod for fishing nymphs or light streamers.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

I really enjoyed casting the G. Loomis IMX-PRO at the longer distance of 60 feet.  It was much more accurate than many of the mid-priced rods.

 

 

 

 

 

#22.  (tie) Sage MOD - 8’6” #4    $850.00

Sage MOD 8'6"#4

 Sage MOD 8'6"#4

The Sage MOD was one rod I expected to place much higher.  Its softness and moderate action lends itself to lighter lines like a 3 or 4, but I found it lacked the smoothness and accuracy I was getting with the G Series and the Pure.  I felt that the Sage X was a better 4-weight, giving me a lot better performance than what I was getting with the MOD. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 43 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18 out of 20

The Sage MOD was smooth and delicate enough but lacked the accuracy I was getting with the Pure or Zephrus.

Performance at 40 feet: 18 out of 20

The Sage MOD was a good rod at 40 feet.  Its softer mid-section wasn’t the greatest for power and accuracy, but it did make delicate presentations.

Performance at 60 feet: 7 out of 10

At 60 feet the MOD wasn’t cutting it.  It was just way too soft in the butt and mid-section to cast accurately at longer distances.

  

 

 

#22.  (tie) Orvis CLEARWATER - 8’6” #4   $198.00

Orvis Clearwater fly rod

Orvis CLEARWATER 8'6"#4

The Orvis Clearwater was one rod that was in need of an update, and Orvis did a good job improving one of their least expensive rods.   Now it has a more modern look that fits nicely into the Orvis lineup.  I like the overall appearance of the Clearwater in its dark gray color.  It has a nice nickel colored reel seat that complements the blank color well.

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 43 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 17.5 out of 20

The Clearwater has a powerful butt section, making it a little too stiff to cast well in close.  A softer tip would help here. 

Performance at 40 feet: 18 out of 20

At 40 feet the Clearwater was nice.  It was forming tight loops and tracking well.

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5 out of 20

I could easily get the Clearwater to 60 feet but the accuracy was not very good. 

  

 

 

#25.  (tie) Loop Q      9’ #4      $229.00

Loop Q

Loop Q 9'#4

The Loop Q was one 4-weight that would be best suited for a nymph/streamer rod.  It was one of the stiffer and heavier rods in our Shootout, which hurt its performance scores.  As an introductory 4-weight the Q would be a solid choice, but if you are looking for an inexpensive 4-weight that’s light and responsive I think there are better choices like the Fenwick Aetos.   I really like the Q in the heavier line weights. In the 8-weight category, it performed at a much higher level than it did as a 4-weight. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 42.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 17.5 out of 20

The Q’s action is just too stiff for it to perform well at 25 feet.

Performance at 40 feet: 17.5 out of 20

At 40 feet the Loop Q was better than it was at 25 feet, but it lacked the accuracy and delicacy I was getting with the better rods.

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5 out of 10

I was able to go long with the Loop Q, but it wasn’t tracking very well, and my accuracy was not so hot. 

 

 

  

#25.  (tie) TFO FINESSE TROUT - 7’9” #4   $229.95

 

TFO FINESSE TROUT 7'9"#4

TFO's best 4-weight fly rod

Of the two TFO Finesse trout rods we tested I enjoyed the 7’9” rod much better than TFO’s longer version.   The 7’9” Finesse was a good rod for in close presentations.  Being the shortest rod in our shootout I can picture this being good for smaller streams with lots of tight cover.  Eastern anglers should love it.  My main gripe with both TFO rods was the use of a huge stripping guide that is better suited for a 6 or 7 weight, but definitely not a 4. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 42.5 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 18 out of 20

The TFO Finesse Trout was nice and crisp at 25 feet and was giving me good presentations.

Performance at 40 feet: 18 out of 20

At 40 feet the TFO 7’9” rod was still casting well.  It wasn’t the most accurate, but it was getting the job done.

Performance at 60 feet: 6.5 out of 10

60 feet was not a distance you want to cast this rod.  It just did not have enough butt power to get the job done.  

  

 

#27.  (tie) Waterworks Lamson SS - 9’ #4  $399.99

Waterworks Lamson SS 9'#4

Waterworks Lamson SS 9'#4

The Waterworks Lamson SS is the standard reel seat version of their new “Center Axis” system, which we did not test.  I thought that the SS was too heavy and too stiff to be a good 4-weight rod.  I would have liked to see this in a softer 8-8 ½ foot rod.   The matte gray color is certainly a different look than most rods, making it stand out from the pack. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 42 out of 50 

Performance at 25 feet: 17 out of 20

At 25 feet the Waterworks Lamson SS had a stiff tip that was not giving me any good feel or accuracy in close.

Performance at 40 feet: 17.5 out of 20

At 45 feet the Waterworks Lamson performed a lot better than at 25 feet.  But my accuracy wasn’t nearly as good as other stiff rods like the G. Loomis Asquith.

Performance at 60 feet: 7.5 out of 10

I was able to go long with the Waterworks Lamson SS.  It has lots of power, and would be a good rod for nymphing or even throwing some smaller streamers.

 

 

#27.  (tie) Mystic JXP - 9’ #4   $499.00

Mystic JXP 9'#4

 Mystic JXP 9'#4

The Mystic JXP was one of the heavier and stiffer rods in the shootout.  This hurt its overall performance in many categories.  It was one of my worst rods at 25 feet, but it was much better at 60 feet.  I think that a heavier line, like a 5-weight, would have made this rod perform a lot better.  I did like the overall appearance of the JXP.  The lightly sanded finish was a classy touch and the maroon wraps complemented the blank nicely. 

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 42 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 16.5 out of 20

This was the JXP’s worst distance.  It is too stiff for delicate presentations and gave very little light tippet protection.

Performance at 40 feet: 17.5 out of 20

The performance of the JXP was much better at 45 feet than 25.  I was forming tight loops but it still felt too stiff compared to the rest of the rods we tested.

Performance at 60 feet: 8 out of 10

60 feet was the best distance for the Mystic JXP.

 

 

 

 

#29.  TFO FINESSE TROUT - 8’9” #4

TFO FINESSE TROUT 8'9"#4

 TFO FINESSE TROUT 8'9"#4

This longer TFO Finesse Trout 8’9” rod was one 4-weight I wasn’t crazy about.  It didn’t perform nearly as well as most other inexpensive rods in our Shootout.  I think that TFO could really make a great 4-weight if they make a few minor changes to the overall rod design.  I think it needs a faster action and softer tip.   The 7’9” Finesse is a much better rod.   

 

Logan’s Casting Notes: 41 out of 50

Performance at 25 feet: 16.5 out of 20

The overall accuracy at 25 feet wasn’t very good with this rod. The slower action hurt here.

Performance at 40 feet: 17.5 out of 20

The TFO Finesse 8’9” rod was best at 40 feet but still can’t compare to the accuracy I was getting with the Imperial or Aetos.   

Performance at 60 feet: 7 out of 10    

At 60 feet I wasn’t able to accurately come close to the plate.  I had to work hard to get a decent cast with this rod.